Monday, April 19, 2010

City Attorney: Nash not a city resident, can't initiate referendum

Posted By on Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 3:27 PM

City officials are saying that Not My Bathroom’s (NMB) initial efforts to overturn the newly passed anti-discrimination ordinance don’t pass legal muster.

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The ordinance passed last week by a 10-2 margin after a seven-hour Missoula City Council meeting featuring impassioned testimony from both sides of the issue. Not satisfied with the law’s passage, NMB chairman Tei Nash submitted a petition last week to the Missoula County Elections Office that aimed to freeze the law and, ultimately, put it up for a citywide vote.

But City Attorney Jim Nugent says Nash, who lives in Miller Creek, is not a Missoula resident and, therefore, under state law, not eligible to initiate the ballot referendum process.

“He’s not an elector, so he doesn’t get to initiate this,” Nugent says. “I’m not going to approve the petition.”

The anti-discrimination ordinance is slated to take effect May 13. If NMB finds a Missoula resident to carry the referendum and is able to gather signatures from 15 percent of Missoula voters prior to that effective date, the law will be frozen before taking effect and go before voters in September 2011.

“They’ll have to get a city elector to step forward and carry the ball,” Nugent says.

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